Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Bucket List!!

I have seen a couple of similar posts on other blogs, and really loved them! If you've learned anything about me, you know I'm a total lists girl. I love having goals, and lists of things I want to do within a set amount of time. Sometimes this can bite me in the butt - when I set my expectations too high, and am not able to reach the unrealistic expectations I have set for myself. But for the most part it's a great way to keep me motivated, and remember what things I really want to they actually get done!

Anyways...I have been drafting and redrafting a list of Summer to-do items in my head for the last couple weeks, and have come up with a list of 10 things for my list. So (in no particular order)... here they are:

  1. Stand-up paddleboarding - Perhaps a bit of a cheat, since it's on my 14 in 2014 list. However, it's on here because it HAS to happen in the Summer. I had wanted to go last Summer, and I waited too long and then the weather wasn't cooperative. I need to plan early to make this one happen. Anyone want to go with me? Or have suggestions of where I should go? (Please note...I made this list BEFORE I tried it...just late on posting.)
  2. Go to AT LEAST one parade - Parades were a HUGE part of my life in high school because I was a (proud) marching band nerd. But somehow I haven't been to a parade in years, which means Linnea has NEVER been to a parade. This is unacceptable. I'm hoping to find a 4th of July parade to hit up, at the very least.
  3. Eat at Sea Salt - Even though I'm not a huge seafood fan, I am absolutely appalled at myself that we have lived in our neighborhood for 7 years - just a mile or two away from Minnehaha Falls, and have not been to Sea Salt Eatery. Like other items on this list, we've talked about it several times, but have never gone. Gotta make it happen this Summer!
  4. Eat at Sand Castle - A newer restaurant on the other side of Lake Nokomis from us. A lot of these restaurants have been popping up more and more. We ate at Bread and Pickle at Lake Harriet in May, but I want to add Sand Castle to that list of places visited! Word on the street is that they are working on a nicer patio (I've seen the construction), so it would be great to enjoy that! Bonus points if we bike there!
  5. Family trip to a Twins game - Jeromy and I generally make it to a game about once a season - although Jeromy's been to a few games without me's been a bit since I've been to a game. And Linnea has NEVER been. We're scoping out a few 6:10 games, and plan to take her to one when the weather is cooperating! I can't wait.
  6. Bike to ice cream - at least once or twice Let's be honest. We have a bit of a weak spot for ice cream. Especially in the summer. We've got a couple places close by, which is dangerous...but perhaps a little LESS dangerous if we bike there!
  7. Go to at least one Tuesday Music Night at the History Center - Back when I lived with my friend Rachel (pre-marriage), we went to this once or twice. It was awesome! Free music and dancing outside of the History Center...what more could you ask for? I've got a couple of them in'll be fun!
  8. Mini golf at the Walker- I hadn't even known about this until just recently. My team at work was supposed to go here for a team building event, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate. I did, however, get a glimpse at the course, and it looked like so much fun! I think it's a definite family fun event to do this Summer.
  9. Go berry picking - This is something I've always wanted to do, and something I think Linnea would really enjoy. I really hope I haven't missed the window to do this! From what I hear, berry picking tends to start mid-June, but it seems like things have been running a little late this year. We'll likely have to get this in within the next couple weeks if we're going to make it happen!
  10. Go to the beach - I live in the state of 10,000 lakes, though I rarely go to enjoy their beaches! Like many of the other items on the list, I think it's something Linnea would really like. 
Seems like a good that will help make for an AWESOME summer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekend Recap - WOWZAs at the Cabin Edition (and #14 of 14 in 2014/ #1 of Summer Bucket List)

Weekend recap, you say? Becky, don't you know that it's Wednesday?! Yes, I realize it's Wednesday, but it's like my Monday, because it's my first day back to reality after an awesome weekend away with some of my favorite girls - the WOWZAs. The WOWZAs are my best friends - there are 8 of us in total, mostly friends from college. The WOWZAs formed after college, when we decided our get togethers NEEDED to be a regular occurrence for...mmmm...the rest of our lives. We thought a lot about what we should call ourselves, deciding that having a fun "nonsensical" term would be best. We settled on WOWZA - which we decided stood for "Women of Wild, Zany Adventures. A little cheesy perhaps, but the name stuck.

Originally we were planning for all 8 of the WOWZAs to go to Chicago for the weekend. When that trip didn't pan out for various reasons, the 5 of us who were able to get together decided to get together at Sarah's family's cabin. The cabin, which we've been lucky to stay at several times before, is GORGEOUS, and perfect for our get togethers.

After a nice morning and breakfast with my family on Saturday morning, Jackie picked me up to hit the road. It's just a couple hours drive to Sarah's family's cabin - which flew by because Jackie and I just chatted the whole time. We spend a lot of time together, but it's rarely just the two of us. Two hours of uninterrupted with her was awesome!

We got to the cabin a little before lunch time. The other three ladies - Sarah, Sus, and Kirstyn - had come up the night before, so they were already settled in. We got the car unpacked, and then prepped a perfect Summer lunch - brats on the grill, potato and caprese salads, chips and hummus, and some fresh fruit. YUM!

Apparently on Saturdays, we wear pink...lovely ladies at lunch

After lunch we cleaned up, and headed out on the pontoon. The weather was PERFECT. Sunny, but not too hot with a nice breeze. We tooled around the lake a couple times, enjoying our time together.

Fun on the pontoon

We got back from our boat ride, and were all pretty tired (because apparently pontoon rides tire you out?! Clearly we were in vacation mode.) We spent the afternoon lounging around, watching re-runs of Friends, taking naps, and getting massages (Kirstyn is a PT and was awesome enough to give everyone WONDERFUL massages).

That night we had dinner, and took a walk. It was beautiful, but really buggy! We headed back to the cabin and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Long shadows in the evening...

Pimm's Cups...

On Sunday, we all slept in (especially glorious for the mamas in the group!). Jackie and I went for a bike ride, and then we all had breakfast together (a new recipe that I made - another one towards my 20 new recipes this year!). The weather was nice again, so we decided we wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding! (#14 from my 14 in 2014 list!)

We got ready and headed out to a rental place, and soon after were out on the river. All of us were a little nervous to try paddleboarding, but it didn't take long before we got a hang of it. It was really fun! We all agreed that it was like kayaking or canoeing, but nicer because you can switch from standing to kneeling to sitting.

Headed out to the river!

Practically a professional...

Paddleboarding selfie!

 I did have one little "incident." I was not great at paddling (forgetting all of my camp skills), and had a tendency to get swept towards the downed trees at the edge of the river. In the stretch of the river that was the fastest, I got pushed towards a big tree. My board hit hard, and flipped me over. Because we were tethered to the boards, I got pulled under, and tangled up, and had a hard time getting myself back up. After a bit of panicking, I managed to undo my tether, and get back on the board (which was still flipped). Thanks to Kirstyn (my hero!), we managed to flip my board right side up, and I was back on my way (a little shaken and battered from the rocks, but okay).

We made it back to the outfitters, and enjoyed an ice cream

We got home and cleaned up, made and ate dinner, and watched Hitch on TV before turning in for the night.

On Monday we decided to take a day trip to Duluth (just an hour and a half away). We got up and managed to get out around 10:00. We got to Duluth around lunch time, so we stopped to grab a quick bite at Little Angie's, a yummy Mexican place right in Canal Park. It was nice enough that we got to eat out on the patio. Hooray!

Margarita on the patio

We putzed around the shops in Canal Park for the next few hours, and enjoyed a bit of time by the lake. It was another GORGEOUS day, so it was all just wonderful! I was happy because I was able to snag a few geocaches while we were there. All in all, it was perfect!

Sarah and Me in Canal Park

Being tourists... :-)

Love this shot!

Dipping our toes in the lake - chilly, but not too bad considering there was still ice on the lake less than a month ago!

Perfect day!

Later in the afternoon, we moseyed our way down the lakewalk to Fitger's, a group favorite! I had my favorite dish there - the wild rice burger with fries, and an Apricot Wheat beer. Awesome! By the time dinner was done, it was time to make our way back to the car and head back to the cabin. Even though we were super tired after our fun day, we managed to watch MOST of Bridesmaids before heading to bed.

Tuesday it was time to head home. After breakfast, Jackie and I took another bike ride before coming back to clean up and pack up the car.

We relaxed a bit more, had a light lunch, and said our goodbyes. Thankfully, all of these ladies are local to the Twin Cities, so it wasn't really goodbye. Although we see each other pretty regularly, it's still SO nice (and needed) to have some one on one time, just us girls.

It was such a perfect weekend, with 4 of my favorite women (we missed you, Bethany, Rachel, and LeElla!). Until next time, WOWZAs!

"We're Just Friends..."

I've seen a few other people post about how they met their husbands. I love hearing (reading) these stories, so I figured I'd post my own.

Let me start by saying that growing up I was always the "guy's girl." I always ended up being the friend...guys would say that they thought of me as their little sister...or that we were "just good friends." I had lots of boys who were friends, but never had boyfriends.

When I started college (Fall 2001) I lived on a floor with a group of ladies who were all single as well. Shortly after the first of the year, the big news on the floor was that someone had a boyfriend. That boyfriend was Jeromy (not mine, yet....). I remember seeing him around, and meeting him. He was really quiet, and kind of distant. I remember thinking he was nice...but not much more than that yet.

The first time I remember him really getting my attention, and realizing how special he was was on Valentine's Day that year (February 2002). Let's be honest. We were a floor of bitter, single women. We were not thrilled about Valentine's Day. But then Jeromy showed up with homemade candles (that he made with his mom) and little boxes of chocolate for ALL of the girls. WHAT?! Who does that? Answer: my amazing hubby.

So he had my attention. But not at all in a romantic way, because he was someone else's boyfriend. But after that, we did become friends. I started to realize that even though he was quiet he was very sweet and incredibly kind. Our friendship grew through the end of the school year.

I don't even remember if we stayed in touch that summer...but when we returned for our sophomore year (Fall 2002), Jeromy was single. I still wasn't thinking about him romantically, but we did start to spend a lot more time together. Ironically, he started to take on a bit of the "big brother" role for me and my friends. He was a protector...a confidant...a friend. We knew he had our back, and we had a lot of fun together.

As the calendar year came to a close, I found myself getting closer to Jeromy than my other friends were. Suddenly, we were sitting together on the couch. When we were watching movies as a group of friends, Jeromy and I were laying together (the way we "did movies" in my group of friends was to pull the mattresses off the beds and lounge together - or cuddle together if you were me and Jeromy - while we watched the movie). He would play with my hair. We tickled each other hands. When I hung out in his dorm, I would ask to lounge around in one of his shirts (which ended up being my Christmas gift from him that year - given before we became a couple). But we were "just friends."

Looking back at it, I can't believe the denial I was in. I just wasn't used to this - how could a guy - who was one of my best friends - actually like me "that way?" Countless people - close friends and acquaintances - asked me in those last weeks of 2002 what was going on between Jeromy and I. "We're just friends..." I would say, believing it less and less myself. They'd scoff at it too, because it was clearly not the case.

At some point near the end of 2002, Jeromy asked me out. I honestly don't remember a lot about it, other than than I turned him down. I was scared. I didn't want to ruin our friendship, and I felt certain I would.

And then we found ourselves at the end of the Fall quarter. Jeromy was done with finals, and had already returned home for the holidays. I was still studying, wrapping up my last exams. During a late night cram session, we started an AIM chat - hello, early 2000s! The conversation eventually turned to "what was going on between us." With a pep talk from my awesome roomie Kirstyn, I had the courage to admit that there was something wonderful between Jeromy and I. Without even ever having gone on a "date," Jeromy and I were officially dating on December 18, 2002. It was perfect. While we were definitely more that "just friends," we started firmly as friends, which has been a cornerstone of our relationship from the beginning.

Look at these babies! I'm pretty sure this was one of our first pictures as a a frame that I made him...

About three months into our relationship, we had a big fight. I don't remember what it was about, but I remember that I was panicked. Things were going so well. I was really falling in love with Jeromy, which scared me. I wasn't "supposed" to fall in love with my first boyfriend. He wasn't quite "my type." My reaction was to panic, and push him away.

In the days after our break-up, I traveled to Jamaica for a mission trip. I missed him every second of that trip. I thought about the amazing relationship we had started. I thought about how silly I was being. I realized that I didn't want us to end.

When I came back from that trip, Jeromy and I met up. We threw a football around (no joke) for an hour or two. Throughout the conversation, we got closer and closer together, finally ending up sitting together under a tree, and deciding that we didn't want to give up on us.

We dated for the rest of college, our relationship growing stronger than ever. We graduated in 2005, and had some time "apart" - living with friends and establishing ourselves. Engaged in 2006. Married in 2007.

And the rest, as they say, is history...

And now, I get a little carried away with pictures. I LOVE pictures, and I have a lot of them of me and Jeromy!

An all-time favorite picture of us. I think this was 2003/2004ish? Not openly smiling for the camera, but I love how it shows that level of comfort and content between us.
Where it all began... :-)
Again...babies! School dance, senior year (2004/2005) at Luther (and yes, I was too lazy to scan all of these, so I just took pictures of pictures...)
Late college...Spring 2005 I think

The next three are shots from various travels...

Bayfield, WI

Boston (Spring Break 2005)

Holden Village, WA - Summer 2006
At our friends' wedding, 2006

One of my favorite shots from our wedding, October 2007
A favorite shot from our honeymoon, 2007

Another favorite, simply because it shows the kind of straight-up FUN we have with each other. Cutting down our first Christmas tree, 2007

And baby makes three... September 2011 (Linnea was about 6 weeks old)

A new favorite of the three of far we've come!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Recap - Decorah Edition (#5 on 14 in 2014)

I am basking in the bliss of a wonderful weekend! It was fantastic! This weekend we took a little trip down to Decorah, IA, the home of our alma mater, Luther College. Jeromy and I met at Luther, and started dating our sophomore year (more on this in a future post!). To say Luther and Decorah are special to us, and magical places are VAST understatements. This trip also checks off #5 on my 14 in 2014 list - woo hoo! Here's a peek at our fun trip!

We headed down to Decorah on Thursday. We left around 10:30, to leave ourselves plenty of time to get down there at a decent time, and geocache along the way! We made a quick stop in Rochester, and grabbed several caches between here and there. Linnea had been up way too late the night before, and then was up way too early. So she crashed soon after we slept, but then slept until Rochester. She was very happy with her "mushroom pasta" lunch, and then was quiet watching Frozen the rest of the way, which worked okay.

We met our friends, Tom, Jackie, and Gavin at Baker Village, the campus housing that would be home for the weekend. Baker Village is where Tom and Jeromy (and 4 other guys) lived our senior year. The housing is technically on campus housing, but it's across the street from campus, and not traditional dorm living. Each unit is two stories with several bedrooms and two bathrooms - the perfect place for our families to stay! 

Each family took a floor. The kids got their own bedrooms, and then each couple shared a bedroom (twin beds, of course - but we made it work). We will definitely stay here again - it really worked great!

After arriving and unpacking on Thursday, we headed to campus. Luther's campus is seriously so gorgeous, and seems to have only gotten more gorgeous. There's so much green space, and beautiful views of the bluffs. We had such a good time walking around and reminiscing. How has it been almost 10 years since we left?! We also stopped in the bookstore to stock up on Luther gear - a new sweatshirt for me, t-shirt for Linnea, mug and books for Jeromy, collar and leash for Luther, and nisse decoration for our house. We went a little overboard, but we just love our school!!

Our family by the Luther bell

After our walk through campus, we went to T-Bock's, one of the bar/grill restaurants in town. We were happy that our friends Bethany, Matt, and their daughters Cecelia, and new baby Marielle were able to join us! It was so good to see them and catch up!

We went back to Baker, and got the kids down for bed and relaxed for the rest of the night. (Side note: I was so nervous about how sleeping would go with Linnea, but it went so well! I'm so glad we made the transition to the big girl bed before we went. She slept and napped great the whole time we were there.)

Snuggles and laughs before bed

On Friday morning, Jackie and I headed out for a run along the cross-country trails on campus. We were in cross-country together in college (and high school for that matter), so there are lots of memories on those trails. We talked a lot about how surreal and weird it was to be back, and how it seems like no time passed!

We got back and had breakfast together and got ready. Then we headed into town. We stopped at a cute, new (since we've been there) coffee house, and then strolled through town. Decorah is such a cute, sweet little town. There was lots to see and do. We had lunch at a new (since we've been there) BBQ place. It was pretty tasty. We headed home after that to put the kids down for naps.
Jackie graciously offered to stay back while the kids napped, and the rest of us headed out to enjoy the GORGEOUS weather. Tom went for a bike ride, and Jeromy and I had a fun little geocaching date. We had a great time.

 Coffee at Java John's

Beautiful day!

Geocache Date!

After naps we loaded everyone up on our bikes, and biked to nearby Dunning's Spring, and beautiful spring and waterfall. Seriously, did I mention that Decorah is beautiful?!!

Dunning's Spring

The ladies at Dunning's Spring

From Dunning's, we biked to Don Jose's, a yummy Mexican place, to have dinner. It was delicious. On our way back, we made a stop at The Whippy Dip, which is a Decorah staple and tasty ice cream place. Jeromy, Linnea, and I stopped on our way home to snag another geocache.

Me and Linnea enjoying our Whippy Dip

On Saturday, we got up and had breakfast and got ready for the day. Mid-morning, Bethany and her girls came back into town (they live about 45 minutes away from Decorah). We decided to take the kids to the fish hatchery.

The fish hatchery is a place where they raise trout. It's open to the public, and is sort of like a big fish zoo. Jeromy and I went there the day before when we were geocaching, and knew the kids would love it. (We spent four years in Decorah when we were at Luther, and had never been here before!)

The hatchery had dispensers where you could buy fish food. Linnea loved feeding the fish and watching them splash around.

An amazed Linnea, and crazy splashing fish!

Gavin, Cecelia, and Linnea checking out the fish

Jeromy and Linnea

Me and Linnea

After exploring the hatchery, we went home for lunch, and to put the kids down for naps. The boys stayed with the kiddos, and the ladies got some time to go downtown, shop, and catch up. It was great!

When the kids woke up, we headed to a nearby playground to let the kids play - they loved it!

I LOVE this picture. Two of my favorite ladies, and favorite kiddos!

After playtime, Bethany and the girls headed home, and the rest of us grabbed a quick dinner. We had time afterwards, so we (you guessed it!) grabbed a couple geocaches! We love our family hobby!

Me and Linnea during our geocache outing

We put the kids to bed, and then Jeromy encouraged me to go out for a solo geocaching outing. The sun was fading fast, but I managed to find 2 caches, and I really had a great time being outside and having a little alone time.

Solo geocaching...

Sunday was Father's Day, so we went out for a nice brunch at the fancy hotel in town. The food was great, and it was nice to be able to celebrate Jeromy and Tom. They are both great dads!

I love my family!

After brunch it was time to pack up, and head home...but not before a couple pictures by the Luther sign! I will support Linnea in any college decision she makes, but I really hope she goes to Luther (we just have to figure out a way to afford it!).

Linnea - Luther class of 2033?

I love my sweet girl, and my awesome school!

It was such a fun weekend, and a trip that was much overdue. We would love to make this more of an annual trip!

14 in 2014 - #10 (Recipes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)

Let's be honest, I haven't been doing a great job with my 14 in 2014 list. I was hoping that it would be TOTALLY manageable, given that I had already tackled my 30 Before 30 list with such success. I know I've still got 6 1/2 months, but man those first several months of the year flew.

I honestly don't quite know what the issue has been. Certainly it's due in part to the personal events as of late (and the month of feeling craptastic before that), but I know that's not all of it.

I also think that part of it is that so many of the items are ongoing throughout the year. This means that it's not a matter of checking one item off...but a matter of starting something, and continuing. I will revisit the rest of the list soon, and I think I probably am doing better than I feels like.

I also plan on doing a Summer Bucket List post. In fact, I've been drafting and redrafting the list in my head for the last couple weeks. Stay tuned! (I gotta get it posted fast, since it's already mid June!)

I was surprised to realize the progress I've made on #10 on the list - make 20 new recipes within the year. I felt like I was WAY behind, but I've already done 7!

As I think I've said before, I am NOT the cook in our house. I'm lucky to have married a man who is very good in the kitchen, AND enjoys it - so he does pretty much all of the cooking. It's good, because I am really not confident in my cooking abilities. I get frazzled in the kitchen, and often get frustrated when things don't go well.

Practice has been a HUGE help in this. An item on my 30 Before 30 list was to cook one meal a month (using at least one new recipe in that meal). It was a challenge for me, but got progressively easier. Jeromy has noticed that I've getting more confident as well - fewer questions for him during the process, and a lot fewer freakouts. Wooo hoo. Win.

Anyways, I thought it was about time to let you know where I'm at with this one, since it's one of those ongoing items.

Here's a summary of the first 7 items (don't judge on how many dessert items there are... this is just a bit of a cop-out for me, as I'm much better at baking...but a new recipe is a new recipe!)

1. Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
I LOVE bananas and peanut butter together. This is one of those childhood taste combinations that I've just never grown out of. Plus...banana cake. Yum. Is there anything better than banana cake? The answer is yes, banana cake with peanut butter frosting.

I used this recipe, found on "Two Peas and their Pod." I liked that the recipe was easy to put together, and mostly used ingredients we had around (I did not use Greek yogurt, as Jeromy and I both hate Greek yogurt...I know, I know...everyone else and their mom loves it. We do not.).

Here's a picture of how it turned out:

I brought it to work to share, and my co-workers gobbled it up fast, and RAVED about it. Not gonna lie. It was REALLY good. The cake was moist (even though I hate that word), and the frosting was JUST the right amount of peanut buttery sweetness. Yum. I'll use this recipe again!

2. Parmesan Chicken
For this, I used this recipe, which I found in one of our favorite cookbooks we have at home, Cooking Light: Comfort Food.

Like all of the other recipes we've tried from this cookbook, it was pretty easy, with simple ingredients (which is always helpful for me), and turned out really good. The chicken was moist (again with that word!), and all three of us enjoyed it. I served it with mashed potatoes, though it would also be really good with any kind of pasta. This is another recipe I would use again!

3. German Chocolate Cake Cookies
Yes, another dessert recipe... but COME ON! German Chocolate Cake Cookies?! I made these for the MN Blogger Favorite Things Party (because you should always have a place to take the yummy desserts you make so you don't eat it all yourself). I was also drawn to the recipe because Jeromy loves German Chocolate Cake, so I knew he'd love them as well.

Like many other recipes I use, I found this one randomly on Pinterest (that's the majority of what I use Pinterest for, though I hope to use it more for DIY stuff moving forward). It's featured on the blog "A Dash of Sanity." The cookies were pretty easy and tasty on their own. The amazing frosting really put them over the top!

Here's what they looked like:

Like I said, I brought them to the MN Bloggers Favorite Things party, but there were so many other tasty desserts there, they didn't get eaten. So again, they landed at work...and promptly got gobbled up! Probably not a recipe I would do all the time, but definitely something worth repeating!

4. Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apple Stuffing
I found the recipe on Pinterest (again)! It's featured here on the blog "All Those Things I Do."

On "paper," the recipe sounded good to me. I like pork chops and stuffing, and I think that apples and pork chops are really great together. I made this recipe when the weather was still cold and cruddy - crock pot meals are always good for that type of weather.

Well, it didn't quite turn out great. Admittedly, it very well could have been my fault. I think I set the crockpot too high. I struggle a lot with crockpot recipes because we've got a crockpot with four settings heat wise, so when the recipes says cook on "low," I don't know if it means low-low, or medium-low. So I tried to go by time, which didn't work.

The meat tasted pretty good, but a lot of it was burnt, and the texture of the stuffing was all wrong- not light and fluffy, just mushy.

Again, good on paper and perhaps my fault that it didn't turn out well, but I don't think we'll use this one again.

Ahhh...but it had so much promise (I did not take an after picture because it looked - quite literally - like crap).

5. S'more Icebox Cake
I've made icebox cakes before with good success. For those who aren't familiar, icebox cakes are generally some variation of the same basic formula - graham crackers + some sort of whipped topping and/or pudding + various fillings + several hours in the refrigerator = delicious, no bake dessert.

Jeromy has become a huge fan of icebox cakes, and will usually suggest I make one if we need to bring a dessert to any sort of party.

So when we needed to bring a dessert to a Memorial Day BBQ with friends, he suggested I make one. I searched Pinterest a bit, finding a couple that looked appealing. And then I found this one.

And then the search stopped. Jeromy and I are mildly obsessed with all things s'more. Chocolate. Marshmallows. Graham Crackers. It's the perfect combination.

Like other icebox cakes I've made, this one was messy and putzy to put together- it's all about the layers...a layer of grahams...then pudding...the grahams...then whipped cream. It just takes a while. But the result, as is true with the other icebox cakes I've made, was delicious! This one ended up looking pretty impressive too...

I would definitely do this one again!

6. Creamy Orzo
Recently, I did something I don't think I've really done before - two new recipes in one meal! Maybe not a big deal for some...but a big deal for me! I'm happy to say that I was calm throughout, and both parts of the meal turned out good!

I found the recipe for the Creamy Orzo on Pinterest (surprised?) - featured on "Damn Delicious." I had gotten a box of orzo at the MN Bloggers Favorite Things party, and have wanted to try some new recipes with orzo. This one looked good, pretty easy, with fairly basic ingredients (I feel like a broken record...but these are the main things that really help me be successful in the kitchen). It was really easy, and turned out great! All three of us liked it. Linnea said that it was like mac and cheese - I suppose so! Orzo is cool in that it's kind of like pasta...but kinda of like rice.

This turned out well, and I would use the recipe again.

7. Italian Meatloaf
This is the other new recipe I made with the creamy orzo (see picture of both above). On a side note, apologies for my really pathetic food pictures. I follow some blogs who do recipes, and their food pictures are works of art! They could make poop on a stick look delicious. Most of the pictures...nope...all of the pictures in this post are just from my phone. The intent is not to be fancy...but just to document what I've done. They taste better than they look...I promise!

The meatloaf was pretty simple - with just a few ingredients we didn't readily have on hand. I really liked the Italian twist - the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and provolone really added a nice twist! The meatloaf was pretty crumbly, but still tasted good - and almost better when reheated later in the week! I would do this recipe again.

So there you have it! Nearly halfway there! The challenge for me for the rest of the week is to do fewer dessert/baking recipes, and more main dish or side dishes. I've had a good time practicing my cooking skills, and as you saw, most of the recipes were successes!! Stay tuned for more 14 in 2014 updates!